Have you ever noticed how we look to what other cultures do to stay healthy for a quick fix instead of changing our unhealthy habits? We search and search for that one miracle cure, miracle food, or miracle exercise that will erase the damage we’ve done and allow us to continue in a damaging way. We poison ourselves and instead of not poisoning ourselves anymore, we look for the thing that will allow us to carry on poisonously. But there is a cumulative effect of poisons, which means no one thing is eating away at us, all of it is. There is no one cure except to stop being that poisonous person, that poisonous society.
Does our commitment to the daily intake of poisons not sound suspiciously like our commitment to self? One would think that selfishness means that we’d preserve the self by all means, which includes abandoning poisons. But the self we are preserving is the person of poisons. We’ve trained ourselves to expect a cure-all to be handed to us, or at least a pain reliever that makes it feel as though we’re just fine, with acceptable side effects that are their own problem. There is no other way we know how to be. That is the “me” we are preserving at all costs.
I remember a day when anyone under 70 years old having a heart attack was a news story. Really. It was that shocking to see anyone younger than 70 suffer a heart attack. I turn 45 next month. This day I’m talking about was only a few decades ago. Now, people under 50 frequently have heart attacks. It’s no big deal. What happened to us?
One factor is that our politics became so corporation-centric that we brainwashed ourselves into seeing our best interest as worth less than corporate interest. The result is that our policies have gone from erring on the side of caution to erring on the side of saying that there is no final proof of a causal link between a poison and a problem, so, until that time, we will keep the poison in circulation. Of course this means we are the lab rats in the experiment of poisons, but that’s to be expected. It’s for profit and science, the two modern gods of us.
Profit is like the Old Testament god, coming down on us like a hammer at will, destroying everything in its wake. And science is like the New Testament messiah assuring us that if we just put our faith in it, everything will turn out okay. The faces of the lies we live change with the years, but the messages stay solid. And they work for a good long time. Convenience is convenient until we run out of cures, run out of clean air, water, land. Then we see the problem and react. Not act but react. And what we react out of is the past, so some people want to do A and some people want to do B, some C, and so forth. Same old reactions; same old ideas. We’ve seen it all before and it always ends how it began: in war.
We are at war within ourselves thus we create war in the world. We are poisonous people and so we poison our bodies and anyone in our way. This is not pessimistic, this is the fact. This is how we live. Running from the fact, denying it, accepting it, fearing it, feeling sad and helpless about it, trying to do something about it in the world—trying to change the world… all of that is reaction to the fact.
Now we are asking, is there an action that is not reaction to the fact? Is there an understanding of the fact so completely that this understanding is its own change?
When we stop doing or undoing damage and instead observe the totality of the problem of poisoning, how it works, why we are doing it–when we see it, does that seeing it have its own undoing?
Ask yourself maturely and see what happens. Maturely means without cynicism or fear. And ask in innocence, without the burden of looking for an answer or running from the question, which is its own answer. Without bouncing the question off of another person for feedback. Just you. Alone with the question. Work it through to the end. See what lives at the center of the unravelling.
See if the poison doesn’t contain the cure.